My Personal Tech

October 20, 2009

When I started at Caster, I was not a techie.  I mean, I liked my gadgets (my iPod, my cell phone, my cute little 12″ Mac iBook, RIP) but I didn’t really have a vested interest in technology.  Once I started, I was sort of overwhelmed with the level of technical information thrown my way on a daily basis but I can say comfortably that I have evolved from just a general consumer with some interest in consumer electronics into someone who really loves the advancements technology has brought us.

Personally, my life isn’t as high tech as it could be.  My computer is a newer Sony Vaio and I will tell you that I’m not terribly impressed with it.  It is just ok and I’m sort of wishing I had taken my client’s advice and invested in a Dell XPS.  Add it to the Christmas list!  Speaking of Christmas, I upgraded to a new iPod Nano last season and so far it has been nothing but awesome.  The graphics are great, I can watch videos and play games and its motion sensor technology is very cool.  That said, I still drool over the iPod Touch.  Sigh.

My TV…well, my TV is still in box form.  I’m almost ashamed to admit I don’t have a flat panel as some of the first accounts I cut my teeth on were display manufacturers, but alas, I am still living with a Phillips 27″ box.  Sniffle.   I hope to change this soon as well – any ideas for a good 37″-42″ LCD, preferably ENERGY STAR rated with decent built in speakers?

Speakers are another story as I haven’t had a good system in….well, ever.  I’ve become more atuned over the past few years to just how incredible music can sound when played over the right speakers as opposed to my iPod or car stereo.  But I just haven’t upgraded yet.  I’m thinking my friends at Paradigm can help me with this eventually.  <winky face emoticon>

More recently, I’ve been more interested with how technology has become the conductor for really pushing the clean energy movement forward.  While the green movement isn’t a new phenomenon, I think the idea that we need to utilize our advancements to help us solve so many of the problems that they created for us in the first place is brilliant.  Sustainability can be an accomplishment if we embrace technology to take us there.  I am inspired on a daily basis by clean and renewable energy innovation and developments in moving towards a smarter grid.

I might not have been when I started, but today, I can proudly say it: I am a techie.

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter

Why Dad wants a Universal Remote Control for Father’s Day

May 13, 2009

If you fancy yourself a family man with an affinity for technology and social media,  Michael Sheehan’s blog and website, “…where technology and fatherhood collide…”  is a must read. The SanFrancisco bay area resident  evangelizes technology professionally and  describes himself and his mission thusly, “Avid technologist, blogger, social media pundit, loving husband and father of 3 beautiful girls. I write about technology, gadgets, software, hardware, parenting “hacks,” and other tips & tricks. I’m a fan of all technology that is new, exciting and valuable. ”

In addition to doling out web 2.0 advice and gauging the technology pulse of readers with interactive polls, Mr. Sheehan offers comprehensive and practical product reviews aimed at facilitating more productive and efficient management of home and office technology. A perfect example is his review of Universal Remote Control’s Digital R50 remote aptly timed for Father’s Day gift hunters looking beyond the paisley neck adornment or processed meat log.

High Tech Dad’s review assesses all the relevant aspects of universal remote control usage including: ergonomics,  programming, functionality and even advanced features some folks may never even recognize exist such as:

Sofa Mode – “I thought that I should mention one really innovative feature called Sofa Mode which preserves battery life by shutting off the device after a certain period of time if a button is pressed for an extended period of time. This could be if the remote is under a pillow on a couch or something. Good thinking!”

High Tech Dad’s review is thorough and astute, convincing us of the R50’s value, but it begs the question, why would Dad want a universal remote anyways?

The most obvious answer can be summed up in a single made-up word: de-clutterfication. The lead photo for this review shows a common coffee table scene for many familes; the hodgepodge  of gray, black and white rectangle boxes used to control everything from the ceiling fan to the Betamax to the Bluray player. Unlike cooking where it’s neccessary to have a drawer full of knives so you’re not peeling apples with a meat cleaver or de-boning fish with a bread knife, digital and A/V entertainment can and should be managed as efficiently as possible.

The programming aspect scares many users but URC’s intuitive interface will make Dad feel like he’s playing with a new toy and not struggling to “Get the damn thing set up!”as he did with the multi-level DIY birdhouse from days of yore. Dad can also browse supported components with ease and program the R50 without the migraines created from scrutinizing a six-point font manual with thousands of programming codes and entering them all individually.

Technology is supposed to make our lives convenient and more efficient. In our efforts to be tech-chic, we often clutter ourselves with so many entertainment options that controlling them all can become a burden. The Digital R50 streamlines access to and control of entertainment while giving dad a sense of accomplishment and personalization as he formats its commands to his manly tastes. It may not have the smoky, overprocessed flavor of a cured meat log but I’d be willing to bet a dilapidated birhouse that most dads would be happy to receive the R50 this Father’s Day.

Posted by: Nick


Sing Karaoke with a Toilet plunger? No Thanks

May 9, 2009

Can somebody please explain this to me?


I found this while taking a gander at Gizmodo. I love the Wii, many of us do. I hate karaoke. I hate to do it because I sound worse than Ashlee Simpson (and you cant lip-sync karaoke) and I hate to watch others try because even if they sound like a choir of angels I still feel embarrassed for them. I know, I know, I’m a giant buzz kill. But can somebody please explain HOW this new peripheral for the Wii is a step up from a regular microphone? Karaoke Joysound Wii (by Hudson) comes with the “Not Noisy Kara Ok” microphone. It’s supposed to keep the noise level down for those who live in apartments and have ornery neighbors. But doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose? Don’t you want to hear your friends make fools of themselves? And as for me, not only do I refuse to sing in front of anyone, but I am absolutely not going to sing into a toilet plunger that has been collecting the spit of every other singing sensation in my living room. I’ll stick with Mario Party 8, thanks.

Published by: Ashley (intern)

Why @ Will Never Replace Personal Customer Service

May 5, 2009

We’ve heard it over and over – social media and the internet at large has changed the face of customer service and interaction irrevocably.  Technology can not only be used to find and communicate with your valuable customers, it can also replace actual human interaction whenever possible.

I find this almost daily.  I visit the grocery store and can scan my shopper’s card, ring in my items as I go and cash out at the register without ever speaking to an employee.  I can even fill my deli order on the automated touchscreen and pick it up in the refrigerated case next to the counter.  My accupuncturist has an online appointment setter, making it possible for me never to call or talk to him or his secretary before I enter the building for my session. 

But sometimes, the need for personal interaction is imperative to ensure customer satisfaction.  Over the weekend, my new 10-week old yellow lab Mila came down with what appeared to be a severe cough, causing her to make horrible, disturbing noises every few minutes.  Being a new caregiver and terrified of what Google was telling me was wrong with her (hint: do not use search engines to diagnose yourself, your kids, or your pets), I drove her to the 24-hour vet services in Rhode Island.  The staff was terrific and despite the high cost of the visit, I was extremely glad I had peace of mind that my puppy was going to be ok. 

The next day rolled around and I sat at home, dog asleep next to me, when my phone rang.  It was the doctor who had seen Mila the night before, an on-call ER vet who happened to be at home making follow-up calls (and isn’t even her regular vet), calling to check up on her.  She wanted to ensure the meds were helping and that there weren’t additional symptoms or complications.  “Ok,” she replied when I said Mila seemed to be doing better, “Please feel free to visit us again or give me a call if you have any questions.” 

I hung up the phone, realizing that no matter how easy and quick technology make customer service and running a business these days, it will never replace true human interaction.

Posted by: Ashley/ follow me on Twitter

The K3: Versatile anywhere Charger

May 2, 2009

A new gadget that I really really really want! The K3 Charger from Kineses Industries would make life so much easier when your stuff needs to be charged. Its solar AND wind powered so you wont be stranded when its over cast, and it holds enough power to charge a cell phone five times. You can charge, cell phones, cameras, iPods, and iPhones. I love this because with car chargers you have the wire that gets in the way and  you can only charge it in your car, and cameras ALWAYS run out of power at the most inopportune times. This little thing is about the size of a flashlight and you can keep it in your purse or your glove box and it comes with various adaptors that are stored inside the device for super convenience. It probably cant be considered super green because of how its made, but when that camera shuts off while your taking a picture of big foot you’re going to wish you had it. (Thanks EcoGeek!)

Posted by: Ashley (intern)

New power strip gives YOU the power to plug in whatever you want

April 25, 2009


Genius! I would just like all of us to take a moment and remember the time you wanted to hook up a lamp and a pencil sharpener on your computer desk but even though the power strip had empty sockets they were blocked by the bigger power adaptors and you ended up writing with a dull pencil in the dark. Okay so maybe that’s too specific, but we’ve all been there in one way or the other. Solution: The Ideatives Socket Sense power strip has angled outlets and the strip extends to fit any size power adaptor you can plug at it. It’s features also consist of 2160 Joules of surge protection, a six foot power cord, power switch with 15A breaker, surge and ground LED’s, cable management channels, metal oxide varistor components, AND you can even mount it on the freakin wall! Some of you may have read that plugging power guzzlers like entertainment systems, computers, and little things like lamps and cell phone chargers into power strips then turning flicking off the power strip when youre not using them helps save a lot on the electric bill. And perhaps you have tried to plug all of your phone chargers, camera chargers, and battery chargers onto a single power strip…NOPE. Not gonna happen with your typical surge protector. If we could just combine the Socket Sense with the Smart strip we could have the perfect energy saving setup.ss_yesno

Posted by: Ashley (intern)

Technology at Area 51 revealed- Elvis not found

April 18, 2009


marvin3111Even though I’m not a “my brother’s best friend’s uncle was abducted by aliens and they did stuff to him” kind of nutcase, I still found it interesting news that they have FINALLY declassified Area 51, so I thought I would fill you in. All the employees that worked there are allowed to talk about what they did there and maybe now we can get an explanation for all of the anal probes, alien sightings, and UFO’s. Okay maybe just the UFO’s. According to the employees all of the sightings were some top secret test flights. Check out this LA Times interview with five of the men who worked at Area 51, they’ve got some good stories. Although they could be actors hired by the government to further circulate the so called truth that Area 51 was just a testing ground for some high tech government projects and had absolutely nothing to do with aliens. But does it really matter? I for one am more worried about the imminent uprising of the undead. Yep, I’m the zombie kind of nutcase.

Posted by: Ashley (intern)